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A Privilege Not a Right

R EY NOLDS C OURTS & M EDIA L AW JOUR NAL

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125. 2IWKHVHOHFWHGVWDWHVRQO\$UNDQVDVKDVFRXUWUXOHVVSHFLÂżFDOO\DGGUHVVLQJEORJJLQJWZHHWLQJRUSRVWing to the Internet. A RK . C ODE A NN., supra note 106, at 6 d(7).

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make a circus out of it .‌ If I have had a good experience with the media [the professionals making the request] or have not been misquoted I [will] gladly allow them to cover the trial.â€? Another judge wrote, “I would look to the uniqueness/public interest of the legal question of the case. I’m no fan of the ‘If it bleeds it leads’ mentality of most requests.â€? The fourth theme was concern over the protecting the privacy of individuals involved in the litigation. Several judges said it would depend on the nature of the case: for example, The decision to grant permission whether juveniles were involved. One judge said the decision regarding electronic access still comes down to an individual requests would be based on “[w]hether it is – the judge – and is necessarily a closed proceeding (termination of parental rights is closed) and/or whether its use based, at least in part, on that would disrupt the orderly process of the case individual’s attitude towards or cases.â€? Still another judge said the determination would depend on, “[w]hether trial the media. by jury or judge; age of witnesses, defendants or complainants; degree of interference.â€? 7KHÂżIWKWKHPHZDVMXGJHVÂśSHUVRQDOSUHIHUHQFHVIRUNHHSLQJVRFLDOPHGLDRXWÂł,ZRXOG deny any and all requests to be allowed to have immediate posting to any various social media,â€? one judge said. Another judge said, “I don’t believe that court proceedings need to be recorded or broadcast.â€? A third judge said, “If they want to tweet about something they can leave the courtroom and do so.â€? Slightly more than three-fourths (77.1 percent) of the judges said that they allow members of the news media, either electronic or print, to bring electronic devices — mobile phones, laptop computers, electronic notepads, etc. — into their courtrooms. But only 9.4 percent responded that they have had requests by members of the media to blog, tweet or post items to the Internet in their courtroom. 2IWKDWSHUFHQWZKRKDYHKDGVXFKUHTXHVWVSHUFHQWVDLGWKH\KDGOHVVWKDQÂżYH requests in the past year. 14.3 percent said they had received six to 10 requests in the past year, and 19 percent said they received more than 10 requests in that time. Of the 9.4 percent of the judges who received media requests to use social media, 72.7 percent said they granted the requests, while 27.3 percent said they denied permission. Of the 72.7 percent who granted permission, 87.5 percent cited a general overview of court rules125DVWKHUDWLRQDOHIRUWKHLUGHFLVLRQ2QHMXGJHVDLGÂł1RVSHFLÂżFFULWHULDLV established [in the rules]; the expectation is that the persons doing this do not disrupt the proceedings in any way and that they conduct themselves professionally.â€? Another judge said, “Along with the court administrator and sometimes our public relations person, we go over the guidelines. Anyone can use a device that is inconspicuous and silent. I feel that as we let journalists use legal pads in the 1800s, we need to let them use the latest devices in 2011.â€? Of the 27.3 percent of the judges who denied requests to blog, tweet or post items to the Internet from court, two-thirds – 66.6 percent – explained what criteria they used in denyLQJSHUPLVVLRQ1RQHFLWHGFRXUWUXOHVEXWWKHUHZHUHWZRWKHPHV7KHÂżUVWZDVDGLVWUXVW of the media. One judge said he denied permission based on “[t]he danger of selective, slanted reporting in compressing a full trial into a sound bite.â€?

Profile for The National Judicial College

Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Spring 2012  

This issue of the Journal covers Facebook service, Judgespeak and more.

Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Spring 2012  

This issue of the Journal covers Facebook service, Judgespeak and more.

Profile for njcmag
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